SCOTLAND’S hopes of a British Championship title are alive and well after an excellent victory over a highly-fancied Kilkenny side in Clydebank (above).
Manager Diarmuid McNulty’s well-drilled side have been preparing their assault on the championship—and with it the opportunity to contest an All-Ireland Junior quarter-final—diligently this year, and now take their place in the British Championship Final against Warwickshire.
Scotland had bizarrely found themselves in the weaker half of the draw due to the seeding system, but it mattered not a jot to the footballers—from clubs Dalriada, Dunedin Connollys, Tír Conaill Harps and Glasgow Gaels—as they trampled all over Kilkenny’s reputation and put on an excellent demonstration of the quality of Gaelic football in Scotland.
In windy conditions the early stages seemed to go with form, with the Kilkenny players putting their stamp on the game with two early scores. Scotland were not to be deterred, however, they were simply steadying themselves and finding their rhythm before a score from a free reduced the deficit to the minimum in advance of a quick equaliser.
Kilkenny raised the white flag once again before the game see-sawed back with another equaliser for the boys in blue, which was the pattern of the match until half time—with a shot crashing against the post to signal to the visitors that the tight game may be about to get away from them.
Whatever McNulty said to his troops during the break seemed to work, as Scotland roared into the second half and were rewarded with a goal through Adrian Dawson. The Tipperaryman may have had his county’s great rivalry with Kilkenny at the back of his mind as he caused all sorts of bother for the visitors, scoring 1-05 on the day.
Once Scotland had seized the advantage there was no turning back. A point from a free followed the goal to put the scores at 1-08 to 0-08, but Scotland were far from finished. Kilkenny were not likely to go away quietly, and as a sterling midfield battle was contested Scotland retained the upper hand thanks to their drive and fighting spirit. A score from play followed another from a free to give Scotland a five-point lead and allowed them a cushion as Kilkenny tried to build a fruitful spell for themselves. Points for the Cats followed, but so too did scores for the home side and despite looking dangerous they simply could not close the gap enough.
Going into the final stages at 1-13 to 0-10 Kilkenny began to set their sights on goal, but the Scotland defence stood resolute and repeatedly repelled the visitors and sent the home forwards off on forays of their own. Indeed Scotland had even extended their lead by the final whistle, which signalled a famous victory in Scotland GAA history, winning the match by 1-15 to 0-11.
Speaking before the match Scotland secretary Jennifer Treacy had outlined the task ahead of the squad, as she spoke about Kilkenny’s achievements in recent years.
“It is not in doubt that Kilkenny have been a dominant force in the British Championship for the past three years,” she said. “In those years we have had a fair few battles, which have made for an entertaining and worthwhile match each time. With an undefeated record in the top tier of the competition, Kilkenny are certainly on the top of their game.”
Not only were Kilkenny on top of their game, they were attempting to lift their third consecutive British title. As the ones to dethrone them, Scotland will now be closely watched as the danger team in the final and will already find themselves being eyed as potential opponents by counties on the other side of the Irish Sea.